Dept. of Justice: 2 men face potential life sentences connected with downtown Austin robbery

Crime

(file/MGN photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Two men pleaded guilty to charges in connection with a gas station convenience store robbery Oct. 7 on Interstate 35 in downtown Austin, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday.

Lavante Carter, 19, and Deon Ross, 36, both pleaded guilty to interference with commerce by threats or violence in separate proceedings Oct. 19 and 21. Ross, who fired a weapon and hit a convenience store employee, also pleaded guilty to discharging a firearm during a violent crime. Carter’s plea also included brandishing a firearm since he showed it to store employees, the DOJ said.

Both are scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 21. Ross faces up to 20 years in prison for the robbery charge and 10 years to life for the gun charge. Carter faces the same amount of prison time for the robbery charge and 7 years to life for the gun charge, the DOJ said.

The FBI and Austin Police Department are still investigating the case. It’s being prosecuted as part of Project Safe Neighborhood, a joint program between federal, state and local authorities. It’s a “centerpiece” of the DOJ’s effort to reduce violent crimes, it said.

“Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing
violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them,” the DOJ said.

“As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and
partners with locally-based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.”

In its initial investigation, APD put out a release that said it was looking for three suspects. A representative from the DOJ said the third person was a minor and wasn’t charged in the case.

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